At the end of 2017, George Soros fell way down on the list of richest people in the world with an estimated net worth of “just” $8 billion. But that was because he had just given away $18 billion to charity.
This gigantic gift follows a lifetime of pouring billions of dollars into his many philanthropic goals. In 1993, Soros established the Open Society Foundations which has expended some $11 billion to date.
The $18 billion will also go to Open Society. It’s a kind of umbrella organization that consists of dozens of different entities that do charitable work and strive to promote “civil society” around the world.
That might mean fighting political dictatorships and autocratic oppression in some countries. It might be giving money to poverty programs, or providing aid for refugees of war. Sometimes it involves helping a city our country recover from a massive natural disaster.
Open Society Foundations focuses assistance on groups that many other nonprofits aid organizations ignore. For example, Soros has stepped in the help the Roma people of Europe, members of the LGBQ community and little-known tribes in Africa.
Perhaps not surprisingly, Soros-funded projects have earned him a number of political enemies, almost all on the political right, and most often the far right or so-called alt-right.
For example, conservatives in America bristle when Soros provides financial support to groups such as Black Lives Matter, orprograms that bring aid, comfort and support to undocumented migrant workers. Radicals on the right also don’t like Soros’ penchant for promoting environmental causes, especially the ultimate taboo for the right – climate change and global warming.
Industrialists such as the Koch Brothers make much or their money in fossil fuels and they feel threatened by Soros-promoted efforts to bolster clean, green alternative forms of energy. Conservatives in America dislike it when Soros “picks on” the right-leaning governments of other countries.
But clearly, the image of George Soros as a “radical lefty” has been largely manufactured by conspiracy theorists. He’s also a favorite target of nutty right-wing a.m. talk radio hosts in America. The Internet is also fertile grounds for far right conspiracy theorists who tirelessly paint George Soros as a threat to global civilization.
A simple look at the record of what George Soros has accomplished through his philanthropy paints a much different picture. His programs have uplifted the poor, educated those who could not afford to pay for college, sheltered the homeless, provided refuge for those fleeing wars – and the list goes on.
George Soros has never viewed his charitable giving as political, even though he clearly gets involved in supporting the political candidates of his choice – who tend to be democrats in the U.S. But those politicians get his help because they support those deeper causes close to Soros’ heart.
Soros’ recent gift of $18 billion to Open Society will certainly provide a legacy for the 87-year old financial magnate who conquered he world of capitalism, but who now wants to soften the cruel edge that can sometimes result from an unfettered free market system.
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